The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents approved the initial plans for the more than $200 million investment for the new campus housing initiative at their Dec. 9 regents meeting.
“Welcome Home 2025” is an equity initiative that EMU and Gilbane Development Company will invest more than $200 million into. It will transform student housing by both renovating existing student housing and constructing new housing. According to EMU, this project is estimated to take three years.
“It is now time to turn our attention to a leading student mandate – to revitalize University housing to meet the needs of today’s students,“ EMU President James Smith said in a written statement. “‘Welcome Home 2025’ is an ambitious and exciting plan that will transform Eastern Michigan University for decades into the future.”
The goals of the “Welcome Home 2025" plan include:
Student affordability: keeping rates affordable is the number one priority of the plan.
A high-quality residence life experience: EMU will continue to employ resident assistants, assign rooms to residents, and manage any violations of housing policies.
Students engagement: students will be extensively involved in the design process and ongoing management of EMU student housing.
The newly constructed student housing facilities will be upgraded to meet 21st century standards, including floor layouts that are built to meet student needs, new wireless internet capabilities, and air conditioning.
The University plans to offer a variety of student housing on campus, including single rooms, suites, and apartments. The number of units, designs, and locations has not been determined, but EMU plans to receive feedback from the campus community about the new housing facilities soon.
The $200 million deal with Gilbane has received backlash from the EMU Faculty Senate, who recently voted “no confidence” in Smith and other EMU officials.
“Pushing to sell off student dorms in the middle of a pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back," Suzanne Gray, president of EMU Faculty Senate, said in a written statement. “The administration made a big show of soliciting ‘input’ but it is clear that this decision had already been predetermined. Why would we want to lose control of student housing – and likely increase costs to our students – at a time when campus safety is more important than ever? We have not gotten a clear answer as to why now is the right time to pursue this project.”
Smith responded to the faculty senate’s statements, saying the housing deal is not privatized and that it will benefit students.
“We are aware that some members of the University’s Faculty Senate are concerned about these plans that will result in a transformative modernization of University housing,“ Smith said in a written statement. “Discussions about improving student housing have been underway with our campus community for three years, and we plan to continue to work with the faculty members who are concerned about these efforts to clear up misinformation and to share the benefits of our housing plans.”
To learn more about the "Welcome Home 2025" plan, visit the website, emich.edu/welcomehome2025..